I’m a Featured Singer In a Recording. What Should I Be Getting Paid?

Artist Royalties

The following was emailed to Digital Music News this morning from a featured artist trying to figure out his royalties.  Can you help this person out?

Hi Paul,

I am a artist and songwriter who just finished reading your article “Now you know everything about publishing” One thing that I find hard to find is how featured artists are paid on songs.

Is there an industry kind of standard that artist refer to? Here is my scenario:

I am featured on a song with a singer who has asked me to do a 16 bar verse, I wrote it and performed it for the final SR. If that song is sold as a download for say $1.00 what would the featured artist royalty rate be?

Do you mind giving me a proper break down of the numbers for a single iTunes record sold?

Here is my idea based on $1.00

  • ITunes- 30 cents
  • Label/Administrator-70 cents
  • Writers- 4.55 cents, divided by 4. (2) Lyric (2) Melody
  • Publishers- 4.55 cents, divided by 2. Only 2 publishers involved. Owner 1 =40%, Owner 2 =60%
  • Main Artist- 14% of the 70 cents (net) or 14% of the $1.00 (gross)
  • Featured Artist- How do you calculate this number?
  • Producer-?? Same as melody writers 4%

Now after the digital distributor gets paid its 30% and the money goes to the label, do they pay the artist and producer based on 70 cents or on 60.9 cents which would be left over after the 9.1 cents for publishers and writers have been taken out first? So out of the below scenarios which one is correct so far without determining the featured artist rate, and how do I determine that?

  • Digital Distributor= 30cents
  • Label=48.3 cents
  • Writers/Publishers=9.1 cents
  • Main Artist & Producer=12.6 cents
  • Featured Artist=?


  • Digital Distributor= 30 cents
  • Label=49.938
  • Writers=9.1
  • Main Artist & Producer= 10.962
  • Featured Artist= ?

Also, here is how the writers/publishing shares are split


1) 20% (Lyrics) Main
2) 10% (Lyrics) Featured
3) 10% (Melody)
4) 10% (Melody)


1) 20%
2) 0%
3&4) Same publisher 30%

Hope you find time to read this. Would love to get your expertise and feedback.


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